Author Topic: More Extreme than ERE  (Read 24217 times)

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
More Extreme than ERE
« on: September 18, 2015, 11:32:35 AM »
Yesterday, I was reading an article about early retirement, and it mentioned Jacob Fisker (of ERE). Someone in the comments mentioned that he lived on $7,000/year, and something clicked in my head. I had to double-check on his blog, but it's true-- Jacob's $7k is his portion of a two-person household. So he and his wife spend $14k/year. Our own household budget is $12,000/year.

We're more ERE than the Fiskers.

No wonder I can't find any articles that are geared toward "how to live more frugally." I guess this falls under "mustachian people problems", but it is kind of frustrating that there are no self-help articles written for people like me....

What else feels weird is that I don't FEEL poor or deprived. We live in a nice house (that's getting nicer, as I've been working on it), we have two cars that we drive like clown cars (one for family trips, one with which I deliver pizzas), we can take long vacations without hurting for the money (e.g., the month-long roadtrip we took in July).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 12:28:00 PM by APowers »

Cheddar Stacker

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3719
  • Age: 42
  • Location: USA
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2015, 12:52:20 PM »
Impressive.

* Slow Clap*

Bracken_Joy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8938
  • Location: Oregon
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2015, 02:48:04 PM »
You should totally put a case study style breakdown on this thread. Not that I don't believe you- it'd just be cool to see how the actual numbers play out!

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4941
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2015, 05:53:49 PM »
Respect.

grantmeaname

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5051
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2015, 12:44:26 AM »
Is there something you're looking to improve on? This community is really badass, so even if few people spend as little as you overall there are probably quite a few that do any one specific area better.

patrickza

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 546
  • Age: 42
    • The Investor Challenge
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2015, 05:24:54 AM »
I'd also love to see those numbers, and know where you're from.

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8929
  • Location: the woods
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2015, 05:59:40 AM »
That's a great number! If I recall correctly, you have a paid-off house, while the Fiskers didn't and were including the cost of rent/van-living/under-bridge tolls. It's extremely difficult to beat that level of spending when rent is thrown into the mix.

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2015, 01:02:41 PM »
Here's the breakdown. Ask, and ye shall receive. :)

Me (26), Wife (24), Girlie (4), Kiddo (3). We live in NW WA and have a paid off house (1100 sq. ft.) I deliver pizza (otherwise we could easily go down to only one car).

Some notes about the budget:

-These are daily living expenses. Remodeling expenses I am not counting, because I consider those savings (since they directly improve the value of my assets).
-Any travel/vacationing we do is entirely optional, and is funded by CC rewards, from the Amusement fund, or from "found money". I keep a "Travel" line-item merely to keep track of what I have available to spend in this category, while allotting it $0 as a regular item.
-The house is paid off. Before it was paid off, the mortgage payment was $300/mo.

Utilities.....................   $230 [Electric, water, sewer, garbage, recycling, and city ambulance service]
Property Tax.............   $106
Gas & Fuel................   $100 ['95 Civic 4-door automatic (35-38mpg), '96 Civic hatchback manual (43-46mpg)]
Personal Care..........   $75 [Toiletries, diapers, aspirin, sunscreen, etc.]
Auto Insurance........   $55
Home Supplies.........   $50 [Laundry soap, books, music, home maintenance, etc.]
Clothing...................   $42
Home Insurance.......   $39
Food.........................   $150
Auto Maintenance....   $30 [Oil changes, repairs, etc.]
Internet...................   $22
Birthday Presents....   $20
Amusement..............   $20 [Fun activities, whatever]
Life Insurance..........   $17
Education.................   $15 [Homeschooling supplies]
Home Phone............   $10
Vision.......................   $10 [4y/o wears glasses]
License/Registration   $9
Travel.......................   $0 [Funded by CC rewards]

That's a great number! If I recall correctly, you have a paid-off house, while the Fiskers didn't and were including the cost of rent/van-living/under-bridge tolls. It's extremely difficult to beat that level of spending when rent is thrown into the mix.

I could include the mortgage, count the kids, and divide by four instead of two....but that would feel like cheating. The kids put together probably eat about as much as a single adult, so I guess I could count them as a half-person each. $1300/3 = $434 per person per month, compared to the Fiskers' $584. ;)

Is there something you're looking to improve on? This community is really badass, so even if few people spend as little as you overall there are probably quite a few that do any one specific area better.

I think the biggest possible improvement lies in the utility bill somewhere. But advice/suggestions from anyone who has a better plan for any of my budget lines is welcome.

Re: utility bill. Some elements are fixed costs, which won't change regardless of usage:

City taxes: $7.70
Electricity base: $18.23
Water base: $29.26
Garbage [lowest possible rate + free recycling]: 19.51
Sewer: $66.33

Total fixed utilities = $141.03

The variable water charges are generally in the range of <$5.
If our water usage gets higher than 429 cubic feet, then higher rates apply, and sewer rates bump up. Usually this is not the case, though; it was for last month because the kids were playing outside with the hose, etc., but after seeing the bill, I'm limiting their usage (and it's getting colder, so they won't be as much anyway).
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 05:38:49 PM by APowers »

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8929
  • Location: the woods
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2015, 08:27:29 PM »
That's a great number! If I recall correctly, you have a paid-off house, while the Fiskers didn't and were including the cost of rent/van-living/under-bridge tolls. It's extremely difficult to beat that level of spending when rent is thrown into the mix.

I could include the mortgage, count the kids, and divide by four instead of two....but that would feel like cheating. The kids put together probably eat about as much as a single adult, so I guess I could count them as a half-person each. $1300/3 = $434 per person per month, compared to the Fiskers' $584. ;)

Ah, kids. I forget sometimes that other people have 'em.

Dr. Pepper

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2015, 08:41:50 PM »
How do you feed a family of 4 with 150$/month? That's 37.50 a week or 9.30$/week/person.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8408
  • Age: 64
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2015, 08:44:12 PM »
Lots of free pizza?

shanesauce

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2015, 10:59:59 PM »
Also curious on the grocery bill, I am planning on living on $12k annual without a mortgage/rent.

However, I am thinking $300+ on groceries for my family of 4.

Bearded Man

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2015, 11:34:51 PM »
Paid off house in NW WA? Is it in the middle of nowhere? Or a manufactured home? Just curious.

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2015, 11:15:24 AM »
How do you feed a family of 4 with 150$/month? That's 37.50 a week or 9.30$/week/person.
Also curious on the grocery bill, I am planning on living on $12k annual without a mortgage/rent.

However, I am thinking $300+ on groceries for my family of 4.

I've posted about this before here. Lately we've gotten lax, but we're still easily averaging under $200/mo. The free pizza is actually a pretty awesome perk; I've been promoted to closing manager one night a week, and as a manager, I get $25 worth of store food credit, in addition to whatever mis-topped/mistakes I might be able to snag.

Paid off house in NW WA? Is it in the middle of nowhere? Or a manufactured home? Just curious.

Not a manufactured home, though it was (is?) a fixer-upper; 2 bed/1 bath, 1100 ft². Our town is population 20k, about 3 hours from Seattle (Port Angeles, WA).

bluecollarmusician

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 404
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2015, 11:32:55 AM »
Hi, just wanted to say congratulations on your bad ass frugal lifestyle.... Sounds like you all are plenty happy!  Proof positive that money doesn't make you happy!  I am curious about health care/costs especially with the children.  How do you handle unexpected costs?


Thanks...

kib

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2015, 12:03:08 PM »
I see someone already posted, but what about health insurance?  Isn't that a mandatory expense now?

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2015, 01:13:22 PM »
I see someone already posted, but what about health insurance?  Isn't that a mandatory expense now?

Sure. But we went on the exchange to buy some, and they were like "you don't have to pay, you get medicaid." I was like, "Okay, then."

Dr. Pepper

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2015, 03:51:50 PM »
I took a look at your food budget, I definitely have some work to do on becoming more efficient with our grocery spending. We are  averaging about 150 a week for a family of 5.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14463
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2015, 08:38:48 AM »
Ah, kids. I forget sometimes that other people have 'em.
^^This^^, LOL!

Big Boots Buddha

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 99
  • Age: 39
  • Location: NE China
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2015, 09:38:25 PM »
I see someone already posted, but what about health insurance?  Isn't that a mandatory expense now?

Sure. But we went on the exchange to buy some, and they were like "you don't have to pay, you get medicaid." I was like, "Okay, then."

Looking at the numbers recently I found that in Michigan where my family lives, it's probably best to live at making only 15k a year unless I could make 50k.

Michigan has healthy Michigan insurance below that amount, with lots of other freebies like paying off utility bills in the winter, free phones, free internet, etc.

TheInsuranceMan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2015, 10:12:02 AM »
I see someone already posted, but what about health insurance?  Isn't that a mandatory expense now?

Sure. But we went on the exchange to buy some, and they were like "you don't have to pay, you get medicaid." I was like, "Okay, then."

Looking at the numbers recently I found that in Michigan where my family lives, it's probably best to live at making only 15k a year unless I could make 50k.

Michigan has healthy Michigan insurance below that amount, with lots of other freebies like paying off utility bills in the winter, free phones, free internet, etc.

So, instead of doing what you can to make a living, you'd rather live poor and get free stuff?  Welfare at its finest.

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2015, 10:49:30 PM »
After doing some further research, reading the competition thread, and a couple people's journals and challenges (mainly "Spend less than $10k in 2014" and "Spend less than $10k in 2015")....

I have come to the conclusion that, on a per-person basis*, we are one of the most low-budget members here. On a total-budget basis, Herbert Derp, I'm coming for you. :)

Close contenders include:

Us-- $1,026/month (actual average spending in 2015) with family of 4 = $257
TheGoblinChief-- $1,470 (+mortgage??)/month with family of 5 = $294
Herbert Derp-- $518/month for himself in 2014 = $518 [Though his "highest monthly expenses" was $344...]
Dyk-- $2,752/month with family of 7 = $393
RootofGood-- $2,667/month with family of 5 = $533 [*$5k/yr is designated for travel. Minus this, and RoG's number drops to $450]
Jacob Fisker-- $584/month for himself = $584


*Not counting members who have special living situations abroad, like Ian ($230/month in S. Korea), Big Boots Buddha (~$200/month in China), etc.

meadow lark

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4937
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2015, 11:23:01 PM »
It is interesting to know there are no real advantages btwn $15k until you hit $50k.  I always find "sweet spots" fascinating.

Insurance Man, your version of morality is not my version.  I think many of the most highly compensated workaholics are destroying the world a lot faster than people making minimum wage.  And I have no problem with hand-outs.  I happily take my tax deductions.  And I happily pay my taxes, too.  Really - I think they are  ridiculously low at my income level.  I mention this not because I want to argue with you (I find that boring) but because I wasn't sure if you have ever been told that before, and I wanted to be clear that what you believe is gospel is actually open for debate.

fuzzhead1506

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2015, 02:35:15 PM »
whew!  pretty sweet stuff....

as i was reading through your budget, i couldn't help but think that you spend 3% of your entire budget on clothing!  i don't remember the last time i spent ANY money on it (even with a little one under the age of 1).  i feel like every time i turn around people are offering my family free clothes or are buying me new ones despite knowing that i have a closet-full of them - some of which actually go unused...... no joke, i was given (GIVEN!!) two french cuff shirts in my size along with ~40 different ties last week.

that might be your way to get under the Fisker actual dollar amount

i also think there is likely room to be improved in the utilities - do you know your usage/vampires?

i think the most unusual part about your budget however is that you have so few dollars allocated for home maintenance - do you have some sort of hook-up at the local salvage yard?  getting free/low-cost stuff on craigslist is doable, but i imagine that finding parts for a broken refrigerator (or a low-cost replacement) can get mildly difficult

i suppose going without a fridge would be the XERE way to go - canning or fresh farmed or free-gan style diets

TheInsuranceMan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2015, 02:49:33 PM »
It is interesting to know there are no real advantages btwn $15k until you hit $50k.  I always find "sweet spots" fascinating.

Insurance Man, your version of morality is not my version.  I think many of the most highly compensated workaholics are destroying the world a lot faster than people making minimum wage.  And I have no problem with hand-outs.  I happily take my tax deductions.  And I happily pay my taxes, too.  Really - I think they are  ridiculously low at my income level.  I mention this not because I want to argue with you (I find that boring) but because I wasn't sure if you have ever been told that before, and I wanted to be clear that what you believe is gospel is actually open for debate.

That's the beauty of a forum, or a conversation, is that everything is open for debate.  Maybe our opinions differ due to our backgrounds and where we come from.  Sure seems like there'd be a lot of advantages making 35-50k versus 15k, even taking any welfare handouts into consideration.  Is your 15k a year job going to provide any retirement match?  Benefits (I guess you won't need these, Obamacare the like would help you out)?  Suppose making that little would get you subsidized housing, food stamps, and a bunch of other stuff as well.

Here, we are taught to work hard for what we have and what we want.  I sure as hell am not going to strive for government handouts.  Oh, and I'm not a high wage earner like a lot on this board.  I maybe pull in 45k, so if all is true in Iowa like it is in MI (I think that's where they mentioned the wage earning stuff), I might as well figure out how to make less to gain more?  Seems backwards.

I'll go ahead and work my 40-45 hours of my real job, and if this year is anything like last year, I'll have an additional 250 hours worked by November helping out my inlaws farm.  I won't get home until after my daughter is in bed, and that sucks, but her parents need me to help, so I'll be there. 

But then again, I could just quit everything, and be a government leech, but that's not our preferred method.

HP

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Location: Silva, Mons et Mare
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2015, 05:30:42 PM »
as i was reading through your budget, i couldn't help but think that you spend 3% of your entire budget on clothing!  i don't remember the last time i spent ANY money on it (even with a little one under the age of 1).  i feel like every time i turn around people are offering my family free clothes or are buying me new ones despite knowing that i have a closet-full of them - some of which actually go unused...... no joke, i was given (GIVEN!!) two french cuff shirts in my size along with ~40 different ties last week.

You sound like you're of the non-bra wearing variety. Does your wife/baby mother get free bras? Where? Do they come in unusual sizes that no one carries in stores or online except little boutiques devoted to unusual sizes and ginormous price tags? Inquiring minds must know.

We didn't need much/anything in the way of baby clothes when they were under a year, either (we did buy a minimalist starter kit prior to birth and then received a glut of them after birth that didn't require much/any augmentation until about 18mos). However, when they get more mobile, they wear their clothes out quicker and there isn't as much to pass on after they've outgrown them. Mine are 3 and 4 now, and about half of their clothes is free (mostly shirts, sometimes coats) and we have to buy the rest (pants, socks, underwear). Probably would get more free stuff if we actually had friends/a social circle of some sort, but my son consistently wears his pants out by the time he outgrows them; those searching for free boy's pants should probably befriend parents who don't allow their children to play outside, or at least, not on the sidewalk. :P

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2015, 05:55:01 PM »
whew!  pretty sweet stuff....

as i was reading through your budget, i couldn't help but think that you spend 3% of your entire budget on clothing!  i don't remember the last time i spent ANY money on it (even with a little one under the age of 1).  i feel like every time i turn around people are offering my family free clothes or are buying me new ones despite knowing that i have a closet-full of them - some of which actually go unused...... no joke, i was given (GIVEN!!) two french cuff shirts in my size along with ~40 different ties last week.

that might be your way to get under the Fisker actual dollar amount

i also think there is likely room to be improved in the utilities - do you know your usage/vampires?

i think the most unusual part about your budget however is that you have so few dollars allocated for home maintenance - do you have some sort of hook-up at the local salvage yard?  getting free/low-cost stuff on craigslist is doable, but i imagine that finding parts for a broken refrigerator (or a low-cost replacement) can get mildly difficult

i suppose going without a fridge would be the XERE way to go - canning or fresh farmed or free-gan style diets

Clothing-- Yeah, it does seem like a lot. We do shop thrift stores almost exclusively for clothes. We'd probably be given clothes a lot more often if we had more friends (or a social circle...). We have had a few people offer us shoes, and family has given us lots of baby/child hand-me-downs. We've also been working on developing a good adult wardrobe. Still, there are shoes, socks, underwear, and growing children. We are fortunate that I don't need any "professional" clothing (so no need to spend on suits/ties/dress shoes/etc.).

Utilities-- Electrical usage for last month was 529 kWH @ $0.0733/kWH. Our peak usage last winter was in dec/jan at about 1750 kWH/month (electric heat pump for heating). We've got a few vampires-- three laptops (soon to be two) that are generally always on as they are used throughout the day, a couple alarm clocks, a couple phones charging, a stereo system (not sure if it vamps or not...). Now that you mention it, I should go borrow a kill-a-watt meter from the library.

Home Maintenance-- I've not found any maintenance issues to be terribly expensive, provided I'm willing/able to do it myself. To use your refrigerator example, there is at least one fridge on my local craigslist for $100; that'd be completely within the budget, IF I had to totally replace our current fridge (but I bet parts would be even cheaper, if only repairs were needed). We also have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and a Waste-not-Want-not store (donated building materials/appliances/random stuff sold for cheap). Currently there is $134 in that budget pool (will be $184, come October 1st), which seems sufficient to me. I'm not sure what I would need to repair on my house that would be so inordinately expensive that a few hundred dollars won't be enough to put right again.

It's Herbert Derp that I really would like to match....


mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8611
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2015, 06:35:01 PM »
How do you feed a family of 4 with 150$/month? That's 37.50 a week or 9.30$/week/person.
Also curious on the grocery bill, I am planning on living on $12k annual without a mortgage/rent.

However, I am thinking $300+ on groceries for my family of 4.

I've posted about this before here. Lately we've gotten lax, but we're still easily averaging under $200/mo. The free pizza is actually a pretty awesome perk; I've been promoted to closing manager one night a week, and as a manager, I get $25 worth of store food credit, in addition to whatever mis-topped/mistakes I might be able to snag.

Paid off house in NW WA? Is it in the middle of nowhere? Or a manufactured home? Just curious.

Not a manufactured home, though it was (is?) a fixer-upper; 2 bed/1 bath, 1100 ft². Our town is population 20k, about 3 hours from Seattle (Port Angeles, WA).
Port Angeles!  Won "best town" by Outside magazine, right?  Or second place?  (Beat my town, Santa Barbara, in the first round, and we were favored to win!.)

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8611
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2015, 06:46:33 PM »
It is interesting to know there are no real advantages btwn $15k until you hit $50k.  I always find "sweet spots" fascinating.

Insurance Man, your version of morality is not my version.  I think many of the most highly compensated workaholics are destroying the world a lot faster than people making minimum wage.  And I have no problem with hand-outs.  I happily take my tax deductions.  And I happily pay my taxes, too.  Really - I think they are  ridiculously low at my income level.  I mention this not because I want to argue with you (I find that boring) but because I wasn't sure if you have ever been told that before, and I wanted to be clear that what you believe is gospel is actually open for debate.

That's the beauty of a forum, or a conversation, is that everything is open for debate.  Maybe our opinions differ due to our backgrounds and where we come from.  Sure seems like there'd be a lot of advantages making 35-50k versus 15k, even taking any welfare handouts into consideration.  Is your 15k a year job going to provide any retirement match?  Benefits (I guess you won't need these, Obamacare the like would help you out)?  Suppose making that little would get you subsidized housing, food stamps, and a bunch of other stuff as well.

Here, we are taught to work hard for what we have and what we want.  I sure as hell am not going to strive for government handouts.  Oh, and I'm not a high wage earner like a lot on this board.  I maybe pull in 45k, so if all is true in Iowa like it is in MI (I think that's where they mentioned the wage earning stuff), I might as well figure out how to make less to gain more?  Seems backwards.

I'll go ahead and work my 40-45 hours of my real job, and if this year is anything like last year, I'll have an additional 250 hours worked by November helping out my inlaws farm.  I won't get home until after my daughter is in bed, and that sucks, but her parents need me to help, so I'll be there. 

But then again, I could just quit everything, and be a government leech, but that's not our preferred method.
I have to say, most poor people I know aren't exactly government leeches.

It is a good point though - about $15k and $50k sweet spots.  The way taxes and other things like "help" are structured is often kind of strange.

At the low end, it's "help".  Now, that means my old coworker, who was in Section 8 housing as a single parent, got help with rent.  She worked two jobs - a full time job with me and a part time job at Home Depot.  But she didn't lose ALL the Section 8 housing.  They took away half for every dollar she earned above a certain amount - so there is still incentive to work.  It's not that much different than VHA when you are in the military.  If you spend your entire housing allowance, you get it all.  If you don't, you keep half of the difference - incentive to stay.

The problem, of course, is when things just "disappear".  Like the single parent trying to go to college, but they can't afford childcare, and they aren't eligible.  Or the person who  gets food stamps, but rather than a phase out, they lose their eligibility.  There are a lot of places where that's true - so while certainly there are people gaming the system, there are others who simply cannot get OUT of the system.

Tax law not too far off.  Even on the high end - If I got a raise to above the HCE level, I'd actually lose money, because I'd lose my tax advantage.  (The amount I could put in my 401k would drop from $18k to 5%, which is $6k, so you lose the tax benefit of the other $12k).

Of course we'd rather people work hard.  But we certainly don't make it easy.

HP

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Location: Silva, Mons et Mare
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2015, 10:14:35 PM »
Port Angeles!  Won "best town" by Outside magazine, right?  Or second place?  (Beat my town, Santa Barbara, in the first round, and we were favored to win!.)

Yeeeeeaaaaaah.... One or the other. The arguments between the people who thought it would be the best thing ever and the people who thought it would be the worst thing ever were amusing to watch, at least.

fuzzhead1506

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2015, 09:27:03 AM »

Clothing-- Yeah, it does seem like a lot. We do shop thrift stores almost exclusively for clothes. We'd probably be given clothes a lot more often if we had more friends (or a social circle...). We have had a few people offer us shoes, and family has given us lots of baby/child hand-me-downs. We've also been working on developing a good adult wardrobe. Still, there are shoes, socks, underwear, and growing children. We are fortunate that I don't need any "professional" clothing (so no need to spend on suits/ties/dress shoes/etc.).

Utilities-- Electrical usage for last month was 529 kWH @ $0.0733/kWH. Our peak usage last winter was in dec/jan at about 1750 kWH/month (electric heat pump for heating). We've got a few vampires-- three laptops (soon to be two) that are generally always on as they are used throughout the day, a couple alarm clocks, a couple phones charging, a stereo system (not sure if it vamps or not...). Now that you mention it, I should go borrow a kill-a-watt meter from the library.

Home Maintenance-- I've not found any maintenance issues to be terribly expensive, provided I'm willing/able to do it myself. To use your refrigerator example, there is at least one fridge on my local craigslist for $100; that'd be completely within the budget, IF I had to totally replace our current fridge (but I bet parts would be even cheaper, if only repairs were needed). We also have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and a Waste-not-Want-not store (donated building materials/appliances/random stuff sold for cheap). Currently there is $134 in that budget pool (will be $184, come October 1st), which seems sufficient to me. I'm not sure what I would need to repair on my house that would be so inordinately expensive that a few hundred dollars won't be enough to put right again.

It's Herbert Derp that I really would like to match....

hmm... well: I think there seems to be a few hundred kWh you could save without even knowing your other usage stats
* do you line dry?
* do you use sweaters and wool socks (in winter)?
* do you use an a/c unit in the summer? how much?  can you use it when you need it only?
* take care of those vampires! do you at least "sleep" your laptops?
* is your hot water by electric?  can you turn it down a few degrees?
* do you wash clothes in cold water?

all things that can be done with little or no upfront cost and minimal discomfort - but if you wanted to more it would likely mean discomfort (even if voluntary) or more upfront cost 


as for home maintenance, i am thinking that the least amount of dollars for an asphalt roof (installed diy) has got to be in the $3,000 range - is this even something you could get used?  even annuitized over 30 years and broken down by month, $8.33 takes up a pretty good chunk of your $50 budget to include stuff like laundry soap! =D





You sound like you're of the non-bra wearing variety. Does your wife/baby mother get free bras? Where? Do they come in unusual sizes that no one carries in stores or online except little boutiques devoted to unusual sizes and ginormous price tags? Inquiring minds must know.


indeed, i don't wear bras.... but the wifey's bras have been bought at Target (3x$20) with gift cards - received as Christmas gifts - for each of the last two years... i have actually been the one that has pressured her to get new ones since her old ones were inadequate or had the under-wires falling out - she thinks her old ones did the trick just fine! haha

as for socks, shoes and underwear - can't help you much there!! =D  only thing i can think to tell you is ask for gift cards to your favorite stores should someone be offering to get you gifts (that is what we do)



 

TheInsuranceMan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2015, 11:51:54 AM »
It is interesting to know there are no real advantages btwn $15k until you hit $50k.  I always find "sweet spots" fascinating.

Insurance Man, your version of morality is not my version.  I think many of the most highly compensated workaholics are destroying the world a lot faster than people making minimum wage.  And I have no problem with hand-outs.  I happily take my tax deductions.  And I happily pay my taxes, too.  Really - I think they are  ridiculously low at my income level.  I mention this not because I want to argue with you (I find that boring) but because I wasn't sure if you have ever been told that before, and I wanted to be clear that what you believe is gospel is actually open for debate.

That's the beauty of a forum, or a conversation, is that everything is open for debate.  Maybe our opinions differ due to our backgrounds and where we come from.  Sure seems like there'd be a lot of advantages making 35-50k versus 15k, even taking any welfare handouts into consideration.  Is your 15k a year job going to provide any retirement match?  Benefits (I guess you won't need these, Obamacare the like would help you out)?  Suppose making that little would get you subsidized housing, food stamps, and a bunch of other stuff as well.

Here, we are taught to work hard for what we have and what we want.  I sure as hell am not going to strive for government handouts.  Oh, and I'm not a high wage earner like a lot on this board.  I maybe pull in 45k, so if all is true in Iowa like it is in MI (I think that's where they mentioned the wage earning stuff), I might as well figure out how to make less to gain more?  Seems backwards.

I'll go ahead and work my 40-45 hours of my real job, and if this year is anything like last year, I'll have an additional 250 hours worked by November helping out my inlaws farm.  I won't get home until after my daughter is in bed, and that sucks, but her parents need me to help, so I'll be there. 

But then again, I could just quit everything, and be a government leech, but that's not our preferred method.
I have to say, most poor people I know aren't exactly government leeches.

It is a good point though - about $15k and $50k sweet spots.  The way taxes and other things like "help" are structured is often kind of strange.

At the low end, it's "help".  Now, that means my old coworker, who was in Section 8 housing as a single parent, got help with rent.  She worked two jobs - a full time job with me and a part time job at Home Depot.  But she didn't lose ALL the Section 8 housing.  They took away half for every dollar she earned above a certain amount - so there is still incentive to work.  It's not that much different than VHA when you are in the military.  If you spend your entire housing allowance, you get it all.  If you don't, you keep half of the difference - incentive to stay.

The problem, of course, is when things just "disappear".  Like the single parent trying to go to college, but they can't afford childcare, and they aren't eligible.  Or the person who  gets food stamps, but rather than a phase out, they lose their eligibility.  There are a lot of places where that's true - so while certainly there are people gaming the system, there are others who simply cannot get OUT of the system.

Tax law not too far off.  Even on the high end - If I got a raise to above the HCE level, I'd actually lose money, because I'd lose my tax advantage.  (The amount I could put in my 401k would drop from $18k to 5%, which is $6k, so you lose the tax benefit of the other $12k).

Of course we'd rather people work hard.  But we certainly don't make it easy.

I agree on all points.  The government leech comment came out of a post that said "it's probably best to live at making only 15k a year unless I could make 50k."
That just blows my mind.  If you have the ability to make 50k, why would you settle for trying to make 15k, just for tax purposes and government handouts?  What happened to people being prideful in their work?  In their lives?  In their jobs?
When I lived in a large city 5 years ago, the places that I could afford to rent on my 30k a year job were WORTHLESS.  But, there I was, looking online for a place to live and you'd find these awesome town houses, and guess what, 30k a year was making "too much money" to be able to live in them.  So, really?  Someone making less money than me gets to live in a place nicer than mine, for cheaper?  How does that work?

And yes, I get that there are scenario's where things like that make sense - single mom, 2 kids, works when she can but can't afford much else.  Cool, good for them, they need a nicer place than I do.  I can live in a shit hole, as long as it's spider free :)
What I don't like is when you see these people taking advantage of a system that was set up to actually help the needy, not to be exploited by the lazy and incompetent.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8611
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2015, 12:59:54 PM »
Quote
The government leech comment came out of a post that said "it's probably best to live at making only 15k a year unless I could make 50k."

Not necessarily a government leech though.

The point was that if they could make $50k it would be worth it, and they'd do it.  (At least, that's how I read it).

But if they could only make $30k, then they are working their butts off but are actually worse off than if they are making $15k.

HP

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Location: Silva, Mons et Mare
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2015, 06:37:21 PM »
Lots of really good condition beautiful Victorian houses due to it's history (was a boom town and then shut down almost overnight so much of the architecture was never subsequently "improved" by subsequent growth).

I think you're thinking of Port Townsend for this part? (But Port Townsend is only 45 min/1 hr away from PA.)

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2015, 01:26:39 AM »

Clothing-- Yeah, it does seem like a lot. We do shop thrift stores almost exclusively for clothes. We'd probably be given clothes a lot more often if we had more friends (or a social circle...). We have had a few people offer us shoes, and family has given us lots of baby/child hand-me-downs. We've also been working on developing a good adult wardrobe. Still, there are shoes, socks, underwear, and growing children. We are fortunate that I don't need any "professional" clothing (so no need to spend on suits/ties/dress shoes/etc.).

Utilities-- Electrical usage for last month was 529 kWH @ $0.0733/kWH. Our peak usage last winter was in dec/jan at about 1750 kWH/month (electric heat pump for heating). We've got a few vampires-- three laptops (soon to be two) that are generally always on as they are used throughout the day, a couple alarm clocks, a couple phones charging, a stereo system (not sure if it vamps or not...). Now that you mention it, I should go borrow a kill-a-watt meter from the library.

Home Maintenance-- I've not found any maintenance issues to be terribly expensive, provided I'm willing/able to do it myself. To use your refrigerator example, there is at least one fridge on my local craigslist for $100; that'd be completely within the budget, IF I had to totally replace our current fridge (but I bet parts would be even cheaper, if only repairs were needed). We also have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and a Waste-not-Want-not store (donated building materials/appliances/random stuff sold for cheap). Currently there is $134 in that budget pool (will be $184, come October 1st), which seems sufficient to me. I'm not sure what I would need to repair on my house that would be so inordinately expensive that a few hundred dollars won't be enough to put right again.

It's Herbert Derp that I really would like to match....

hmm... well: I think there seems to be a few hundred kWh you could save without even knowing your other usage stats
* do you line dry?
* do you use sweaters and wool socks (in winter)?
* do you use an a/c unit in the summer? how much?  can you use it when you need it only?
* take care of those vampires! do you at least "sleep" your laptops?
* is your hot water by electric?  can you turn it down a few degrees?
* do you wash clothes in cold water?

all things that can be done with little or no upfront cost and minimal discomfort - but if you wanted to more it would likely mean discomfort (even if voluntary) or more upfront cost 


as for home maintenance, i am thinking that the least amount of dollars for an asphalt roof (installed diy) has got to be in the $3,000 range - is this even something you could get used?  even annuitized over 30 years and broken down by month, $8.33 takes up a pretty good chunk of your $50 budget to include stuff like laundry soap! =D


We don't line dry. This is part laziness, part PNW constant wetness, part don't-really-have-a-good-place-for-a-clothesline...
We do wear warm clothing in winter.
We don't use A/C in summer.
Just got a Kill-a-Watt meter from the library. Will make adjustments to what remains plugged in as I test everything. It does look like some anti-vampirism is in order.
Water heater is electric. It is already turned down as low as possible.
Almost all laundry is done in cold water.

We have LED or fluorescent lighting in 95% of light fixtures. (And we try to turn off lights in rooms that are not in use.)

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2015, 01:35:36 AM »
After doing some further research, reading the competition thread, and a couple people's journals and challenges (mainly "Spend less than $10k in 2014" and "Spend less than $10k in 2015")....

I have come to the conclusion that, on a per-person basis*, we are one of the most low-budget members here. On a total-budget basis, Herbert Derp, I'm coming for you. :)

Close contenders include:

Us-- $1,026/month (actual average spending in 2015) with family of 4 = $257
TheGoblinChief-- $1,470 (+mortgage??)/month with family of 5 = $294
Herbert Derp-- $518/month for himself in 2014 = $518 [Though his "highest monthly expenses" was $344...]
Dyk-- $2,752/month with family of 7 = $393
RootofGood-- $2,667/month with family of 5 = $533 [*$5k/yr is designated for travel. Minus this, and RoG's number drops to $450]
Jacob Fisker-- $584/month for himself = $584


*Not counting members who have special living situations abroad, like Ian ($230/month in S. Korea), Big Boots Buddha (~$200/month in China), etc.
Wha....? I was left out of the ERE pack? JK but I do average around $600/month for a single person if you don't count travel money (which is also a pretty low figure). Many months I spend less than $300 - food, utilities and gas for my car - but added annual expenses like prop taxes and insurance, car insurance and registration make the average higher. I have a paid off house, low expenses for most things, no debt, no kids, free/low cost medical thru the VA, and a pretty frugal lifestyle with mostly free or low cost hobbies and activities. My only real expense is budget travel which usually consists of camping type trips with occasional budget motels (like the very upscale Motel 6 I'm in right now :-)!). Hey, don't make fun of it, as it's in a very cool place though!

Oops! I was just listing the people I could find that had budgets/spending/averages under $600/month. Otherwise, the list gets really, really long.... :P

Feel free to insert yourself into the top contenders wherever you fit. :)

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3001
  • Age: 38
  • Location: North Carolina
    • Freedom35
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2015, 05:52:57 AM »
Lots of really good condition beautiful Victorian houses due to it's history (was a boom town and then shut down almost overnight so much of the architecture was never subsequently "improved" by subsequent growth).

I think you're thinking of Port Townsend for this part? (But Port Townsend is only 45 min/1 hr away from PA.)

I think you are right! That is what I get for writing stuff on my phone from memory :)
We went through Port Angeles to get another and thought it was cool too, but i'm obviously just mixing things together!

fuzzhead1506

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2015, 02:43:06 PM »

We don't line dry. This is part laziness, part PNW constant wetness, part don't-really-have-a-good-place-for-a-clothesline...
We do wear warm clothing in winter.
We don't use A/C in summer.
Just got a Kill-a-Watt meter from the library. Will make adjustments to what remains plugged in as I test everything. It does look like some anti-vampirism is in order.
Water heater is electric. It is already turned down as low as possible.
Almost all laundry is done in cold water.

We have LED or fluorescent lighting in 95% of light fixtures. (And we try to turn off lights in rooms that are not in use.)

this is about the last suggestion of mine that is free:

*turning back the heat even a few degrees can mean a HUGE drop in your heating needs (especially if you have a leaky house), if you're cold get up and do a few jumping jacks

all of the suggestions that follow require some sort of upfront cost, all of which have a significantly longer payback period:

*get a few plastic foldable, stand-up laundry drying racks... they should work well in your kitchen if the outdoors are wet/not sunny
*do you have a natural gas feed to your abode?  if not, have one installed: switching the water heater and oven/stove to gas (or solar, for that matter) could show quite a reduction in energy usage
*how leaky is your house?  insulation improvements could dramatically reduce your heating needs
*is your heat pump air-sourced or ground sourced?  if you have an air-sourced heat pump, moving to a ground sourced heat pump could provide a drop in your energy output but could take many years to pay back based on the upfront cost
*make your windows and doors less leaky by installing double or triple glass panes
*install tile if you currently have carpet
*construct a rocket mass heater or a masonry stove and source some firewood to feed the thing - this could make your most used room warmer than even the heat pump could for fewer dollars and cents (free if you can source your firewood from trees in the backyard! ;)  )

these last suggestions may not be possible based on the design/placement of the house:
*move one or two of your windows to maximize solar gain for winter months
*change the pitch of your roof to increase the passivity of your heating/cooling; at the same time, change the roofing material (if your HOA allows for such a change)
*consider installing a small solar or wind system to offset your costs and maybe sell some of the energy back to the grid




Bucksandreds

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 878
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2015, 03:35:56 PM »
It is interesting to know there are no real advantages btwn $15k until you hit $50k.  I always find "sweet spots" fascinating.

Insurance Man, your version of morality is not my version.  I think many of the most highly compensated workaholics are destroying the world a lot faster than people making minimum wage.  And I have no problem with hand-outs.  I happily take my tax deductions.  And I happily pay my taxes, too.  Really - I think they are  ridiculously low at my income level.  I mention this not because I want to argue with you (I find that boring) but because I wasn't sure if you have ever been told that before, and I wanted to be clear that what you believe is gospel is actually open for debate.

That's the beauty of a forum, or a conversation, is that everything is open for debate.  Maybe our opinions differ due to our backgrounds and where we come from.  Sure seems like there'd be a lot of advantages making 35-50k versus 15k, even taking any welfare handouts into consideration.  Is your 15k a year job going to provide any retirement match?  Benefits (I guess you won't need these, Obamacare the like would help you out)?  Suppose making that little would get you subsidized housing, food stamps, and a bunch of other stuff as well.

Here, we are taught to work hard for what we have and what we want.  I sure as hell am not going to strive for government handouts.  Oh, and I'm not a high wage earner like a lot on this board.  I maybe pull in 45k, so if all is true in Iowa like it is in MI (I think that's where they mentioned the wage earning stuff), I might as well figure out how to make less to gain more?  Seems backwards.

I'll go ahead and work my 40-45 hours of my real job, and if this year is anything like last year, I'll have an additional 250 hours worked by November helping out my inlaws farm.  I won't get home until after my daughter is in bed, and that sucks, but her parents need me to help, so I'll be there. 

But then again, I could just quit everything, and be a government leech, but that's not our preferred method.

The best long term solution to the Medicaid part of Obamacare would be a means test that involves net worth when determining eligibility. The OP may still qualify but, from what I understand, you could have a $1 million dollar paid off house and equal or more money in a 401k and just quit your job and get Medicaid.

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3360
  • Location: New York
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2015, 10:25:47 AM »
Quote
The best long term solution to the Medicaid part of Obamacare would be a means test that involves net worth when determining eligibility. The OP may still qualify but, from what I understand, you could have a $1 million dollar paid off house and equal or more money in a 401k and just quit your job and get Medicaid.
It depends on what you mean by "best." Until 2010 when the ACA passed, Medicaid had an assets test. The assets test was eliminated for two reasons - one, it's complex (expensive) to administer, and two, it created perverse incentives and didn't achieve the policy goal of providing a Medical safety net.

It was cheaper to simply eliminate the assets test altogether. Many states had huge eligibility backlogs months or even years long. The law required an eligibility decision within 30 days and for retroactive coverage in effect back to the day of application (which is also complex and expensive to administer).

Two, do we really want to exclude people from the social safety net because they have an asset? What about people who lose their jobs and need help for a few months to find another one? Suppose you're a hardworking middle class guy with three kids who gets laid off. You have a house and a car but not much money in the bank. Prior to ACA, you would not qualify for Medicaid until you sold your house and car, and spent all the money you got. Would you advocate making that guy sell his house and car to pay for his kids to see the doctor?

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2946
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #40 on: October 03, 2015, 05:10:24 PM »
Sweet!  Personal hygiene and cleaning supplies seem a bit high.    We could be at 13k for a family of 3.5 if we choose to.   But we very much like paying 3%/interest on the house while averaging 8% on the cash.     We could only match the grocery amount with free stuff.    Our life is full of luxery.

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #41 on: October 03, 2015, 05:20:13 PM »
Sweet!  Personal hygiene and cleaning supplies seem a bit high.    We could be at 13k for a family of 3.5 if we choose to.   But we very much like paying 3%/interest on the house while averaging 8% on the cash.     We could only match the grocery amount with free stuff.    Our life is full of luxury.

At this point, we're still buying diapers. Once that expense is gone, that category will drop precipitously. Yeah, yeah, cloth diapers, etc., etc....but I'm not the person in charge of the laundry, so I defer to her preference.

"Our life is full of luxury." QFT.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2946
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2015, 10:49:11 AM »
Sweet!  Personal hygiene and cleaning supplies seem a bit high.    We could be at 13k for a family of 3.5 if we choose to.   But we very much like paying 3%/interest on the house while averaging 8% on the cash.     We could only match the grocery amount with free stuff.    Our life is full of luxury.

At this point, we're still buying diapers. Once that expense is gone, that category will drop precipitously. Yeah, yeah, cloth diapers, etc., etc....but I'm not the person in charge of the laundry, so I defer to her preference.

"Our life is full of luxury." QFT.
Sorry missed the diapers first time.  A must have IMHO.  Great life you have there!

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2946
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #43 on: October 05, 2015, 07:13:57 PM »
Quote
The best long term solution to the Medicaid part of Obamacare would be a means test that involves net worth when determining eligibility. The OP may still qualify but, from what I understand, you could have a $1 million dollar paid off house and equal or more money in a 401k and just quit your job and get Medicaid.
It depends on what you mean by "best." Until 2010 when the ACA passed, Medicaid had an assets test. The assets test was eliminated for two reasons - one, it's complex (expensive) to administer, and two, it created perverse incentives and didn't achieve the policy goal of providing a Medical safety net.

It was cheaper to simply eliminate the assets test altogether. Many states had huge eligibility backlogs months or even years long. The law required an eligibility decision within 30 days and for retroactive coverage in effect back to the day of application (which is also complex and expensive to administer).

Two, do we really want to exclude people from the social safety net because they have an asset? What about people who lose their jobs and need help for a few months to find another one? Suppose you're a hardworking middle class guy with three kids who gets laid off. You have a house and a car but not much money in the bank. Prior to ACA, you would not qualify for Medicaid until you sold your house and car, and spent all the money you got. Would you advocate making that guy sell his house and car to pay for his kids to see the doctor?
Missouri generally only allows cash like assets of $1000.

Matt_D

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Virginia
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #44 on: October 06, 2015, 02:50:09 PM »
OP - feel free to link me elsewhere if you've posted on this... but what's your general plan for the future? At your current spending level you barely need to work... but presumably there might be a time when you can't/don't want to?

Also - I noticed you said you fund travel through CC spending. BUT - you also hardly spend any money. How's that work??

And (not to try to point fingers, actually curious): do you feel like your food choices are generally healthy? Seems like a ton of grain-based carbs to me - which I personally can only tolerate in moderate quantities (e.g. I love oatmeal, but eating it for breakfast every day just doesn't work well for me). Maybe there's more veggies and such in there than I'm imagining though.

Finally: with all your frugal efforts, I'm curious as to how much time you think you spend pursuing lower-priced things vs. making more money and buying higher-priced things (e.g. shopping around for things on deep deep discount).

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2946
  • Age: 62
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #45 on: October 06, 2015, 03:04:16 PM »
I can't answer for the OP but I can tell you that a person can shop very cheaply for 45 minutes a week in one store and spend very little on groceries if they are eating a primarily whole food diet with grain/rice/potatoes as a good percentage.   A sample daily menu might look like this --

Breakfast -  Oatmeal with raisins and olive oil  35 cents
Lunch - 2 slices whole wheat bread,  spinach/onion,  one small portion or either $1 chicken, ham or cheaper bologna. mustard,  rice or potato side.  40 cents
Dinner - Pasta with lightly meated read sauce frozen broccoli,  home made garlic bread heavy on the olive oil. 90 cents

Snack -  Homemade popcorn or brownies  15 cents

Tea or water as beverages.  5 cents 

Total = $1.85,   throw in some free pizza and beans over the week and you get to the $1.5 range pretty quickly.   You can even add several eggs per week. 

Matt_D

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Virginia
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #46 on: October 07, 2015, 07:22:55 AM »
I can't answer for the OP but I can tell you that a person can shop very cheaply for 45 minutes a week in one store and spend very little on groceries if they are eating a primarily whole food diet with grain/rice/potatoes as a good percentage.   A sample daily menu might look like this --

Breakfast -  Oatmeal with raisins and olive oil  35 cents
Lunch - 2 slices whole wheat bread,  spinach/onion,  one small portion or either $1 chicken, ham or cheaper bologna. mustard,  rice or potato side.  40 cents
Dinner - Pasta with lightly meated read sauce frozen broccoli,  home made garlic bread heavy on the olive oil. 90 cents

Snack -  Homemade popcorn or brownies  15 cents

Tea or water as beverages.  5 cents 

Total = $1.85,   throw in some free pizza and beans over the week and you get to the $1.5 range pretty quickly.   You can even add several eggs per week.

Thanks, good example... still curious about OP's response to the rest.

APowers

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1321
  • Location: Colorado
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #47 on: October 07, 2015, 11:01:20 AM »
OP - feel free to link me elsewhere if you've posted on this... but what's your general plan for the future? At your current spending level you barely need to work... but presumably there might be a time when you can't/don't want to?

General long-term plan for the future is to take an epic educational/adventure road trip around the states (say, 2 years of travel when the kids are 11-14), and then end up in somewhere warm and sunny (California?). After that, help them excel in high school, and get them started off well in good and interesting (to them) college/life careers. After that, it'll be just me and Wife, so there will be a lot more flexibility to do whatever we want. I'm planning on a $1,500-2,000/month budget for FIRE.

Also - I noticed you said you fund travel through CC spending. BUT - you also hardly spend any money. How's that work??

Right. A couple ways. First, we don't travel very much. Second, when we do, it's almost always driving, which involves gas + lodging -- we get 38mpg and try to stay with friends, so that cuts down on expenses (much of which can also come from normal budget categories, like "gas" rather than special "travel" monies). As for funding, we basically charge every expense we have on a rewards credit card; this is usually enough to hit the sign-up bonus requirements. When our regular spending isn't quite enough, I have a bluebird card, and have manufactured some spending, though it's usually not necessary. Currently, we have about $130-140 in cash back points that we could use.

And (not to try to point fingers, actually curious): do you feel like your food choices are generally healthy? Seems like a ton of grain-based carbs to me - which I personally can only tolerate in moderate quantities (e.g. I love oatmeal, but eating it for breakfast every day just doesn't work well for me). Maybe there's more veggies and such in there than I'm imagining though.

I do feel like our food is pretty healthy.

We very rarely buy pre-packaged junk food.
We generally allow a whole fruit per person per day (usually an apple or banana, but sometimes other fruits).
We do eat mainly grain-based carbs, but, on average, they're whole grains: whole wheat bread for sandwiches, oatmeal, brown rice, occasionally whole wheat pasta. The free pizza is, of course, not whole wheat, and the pasta is usually normal white pasta; potatoes and lentils are both healthy carbs.
We try to do lots of veggies-- for instance, when we make pasta, it's usually about equal weights carbs and veggies, plus some meat and good spices/seasoning.
We try to stay away from preserved meats-- avoiding nitrates/etc. so we don't often do bacon, hot dogs, or many cold cuts (we do splurge on turkey, which is preservative-free).

Finally: with all your frugal efforts, I'm curious as to how much time you think you spend pursuing lower-priced things vs. making more money and buying higher-priced things (e.g. shopping around for things on deep deep discount).

I don't think it's an even trade-off. I've tried to "make more money", and not been able to find a job where I could do that. It's not like I can just decide "I'm going to work harder and smarter this week/month/year and make twice as much money". Also, I can price-shop while I'm spending time with my family (quality time), while working more means more time spent not with my family (not quality time). We are considering moving to a more job-rich city, for the sake of greater income/opportunity, so that might help; we'll see.

I don't feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time scouring for deep discounts; I mainly just keep a mental note of what items I know I need/want, and then keep my eyes peeled for when I see them on a good sale.

Matt_D

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Virginia
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #48 on: October 07, 2015, 11:35:20 AM »
Thanks! Appreciate the detailed answers.

Bearded Man

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
Re: More Extreme than ERE
« Reply #49 on: October 07, 2015, 12:04:38 PM »
How do you feed a family of 4 with 150$/month? That's 37.50 a week or 9.30$/week/person.
Also curious on the grocery bill, I am planning on living on $12k annual without a mortgage/rent.

However, I am thinking $300+ on groceries for my family of 4.

I've posted about this before here. Lately we've gotten lax, but we're still easily averaging under $200/mo. The free pizza is actually a pretty awesome perk; I've been promoted to closing manager one night a week, and as a manager, I get $25 worth of store food credit, in addition to whatever mis-topped/mistakes I might be able to snag.

Paid off house in NW WA? Is it in the middle of nowhere? Or a manufactured home? Just curious.

Not a manufactured home, though it was (is?) a fixer-upper; 2 bed/1 bath, 1100 ft². Our town is population 20k, about 3 hours from Seattle (Port Angeles, WA).

I went to visit PA a year or so ago and considered moving there. Beautiful area, though housing still seems expensive at 150K for a decent old small house considering not much of an economy there, but beautiful and seemingly laid back, slow pace of life there.

Now I'm looking at Spokane or Ellensburg, possibly Florida.